The impact of elevation gradients in tropical locations on botanical traits, zoochory, and species diversity is well-attested in the literature. However, researchers are still somewhat unclear on how and why different environmental factors fit together to produce the observed effects. Examination of fruit, seed, and leaf traits will improve understanding of species adaptations – elevation gradients are often used to infer species’ trait responses to climate change, granting these inquiries heightened relevance.
Renata will investigate how seed, fruit, and leaf traits vary along an altitudinal transect on the northern slope of Volcan Barva, Costa Rica. Specifically, this project will look at the dispersal agent (bird, insect, mammal, wind), type, color, and size of fruits and seeds; and the presence or absence of drip-tips, structure (simple/compound), edge type (entire, serrate, lobed, etc.), and size of leaves.
Determining the impacts of elevation on this botanical community builds off of previous projects investigating the breeding systems and phylogenetic diversity of the botanical community at this site, and lays the foundation for future projects (potentially further investigation at this site, or analysis of elevation gradients in other places).